A friend and I were talking the other day about this blog, and she suggested that I focus one dessert per month. After a bit of contemplation I decided that I would. I mean, it sounded like a great idea! I can dive into one aspect of the pastry world and learn exclusively about it, before diving into the next. So March is now... Cupcake Month! Ok, yes cupcakes are completely cliche and over done, but truth be told, I love them. Cupcakes will also allow me to work on piping and frosting skills as well, which is something I have been hoping to learn. I'm probably not going to do any "cute" cupcakes though, I'm going to keep it gourmet and focus on the flavors a cupcake can bring.
So this week, I chose to focus on the flavor of coconut. I love coconut and in my opinion, it creates some of the best desserts.

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Creme Frosting

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut milk
4 egg whites
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line regular cupcake pan with liners of choice. In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt. In a big mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then half of the flour mixture. Add coconut milk then the rest of the flour mixture. In another large, clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter (this will be tricky at the beginning). Once the egg whites are almost incorporated, add the rest of the egg whites and fold until no streaks remain. Stir in shredded coconut.
Divide evenly into the cupcake tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (mine were perfect at 22 minutes).

For the frosting:
1  13 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Coconut for garnish (you can toast it if you want to)

In a large saucepan, bring coconut milk to a simmer over medium heat. The coconut will froth and sputter a bit, and when it does, turn the heat down to low. Reduce for 5 to10 minutes, then remove from heat and cool completely. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla extract, salt, and 1/3 cup of reduced coconut milk (you can do what ever you want with the rest since you won't be needing it). Beat the entire mixture together until light and creamy.
Frosts 12 cupcakes.

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